Episode 28: Zahra Billoo

Success is in the effort. It’s not in the outcome, it’s in the process. I ask myself the question, ‘did we make an effort, were we principled in our efforts, did we build relationships, did we empower others, was the effort successful or was the outcome’?

"Success is in the effort."

Zahra Billoo, Civil Rights Attorney and Muslim American Activist, on defending the rights of American Muslims and the marginalized

Zahra Billoo is a civil rights activist, feminist, community organizer, and renowned speaker.  Zahra is a civil rights attorney and the Executive Director of the San Francisco Bay Area office of the Council on American‐Islamic Relations (CAIR‐SFBA), which is the largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. CAIR’s mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

Zahra had a busy year; from speaking at the Women’s March to fighting Trump’s “Muslim Travel Ban”, which barred travel from seven Muslim countries to the US, to creating dialog for peace and understanding, to championing a voice for marginalized communities.   

Podcast Details

Find out from the podcast how Zahra:

  • Prepared to speak in front of 750,000 people at the Women’s March in D.C. this past January
  • Found her activist voice from a bullying incident and the path that led her to defending civil rights as her life’s work
  • Confronted an anthrax scare in the Council of American Islamic Relations office
  • Always has to be ‘on call’ in her line of work and how she advocates seeking therapy for self care
  • Dealt with the most challenging year in her personal life and the lessons she learned as a result
  • Uses baking as a way to give back to Cake 4 Kids, an organization that delivers custom birthday cakes to foster kids
  • Believes in building power with marginalized communities
  • Gives advice to rising young Muslim American women

“To be a visible Muslim woman at a time when Muslims are under attack when people are trying to figure out what they know about us and how they support us, I was feeling the pressure…there are no take backs at a live speech of that magnitude.  At the same time, there was also a sense of 'I am so grateful to be alive right now and to have this opportunity n this moment'.”  Zahra Billoo, Women’s March 2017

About Zahra

Zahra Billoo is a civil rights attorney and the Executive Director of the San Francisco Bay Area office of the Council on American‐Islamic Relations (CAIR‐SFBA).  Zahra is a leading voice on the civil rights of American Muslims. 

Follow Zahra on Twitter and Facebook.  Contact Zahra at zbilloo@cair.com.